One step at a time
When you put on weight, taking it off again can seem like an insurmountable feat, especially when you’re looking at more than just one or two extra kilos. Concentrating on the big picture – losing five, 10 or more kilos will more than likely send you running back to your comfort food rather than running off to the gym. It can all feel too much like hard work, and too easy to put off for yet another day.
But, deep down, you know you should lose the weight. It will make you healthier. You’ll look better and feel better. So what if we told you that starting to lose weight is easy, that you could start today and that it wouldn’t hurt? All you need to do is start identifying small parts of your life that you could swap for a healthier alternative!
Not sure where to start? Here are a few simple suggestions.
You eat dessert after dinner every night
Make afters a weekly treat. Schedule it for the one night you would like to reward yourself – it could be after a hard day’s work on Monday or winding down with the kids on Friday. Don’t keep ice-cream in your freezer – it’s too tempting – buy only enough for one family serving.
You fill up on bread
Go for fruit first when you’re hungry. Fill a bowl with apples and pears – they’re sweet, delicious and packed with water and fibre, so your stomach will want less. A handful of grapes or blueberries can also be a tasty snack.
You just can’t resist a regular soft-drink hit
Switch fizzy drinks for water with lemon and mint, or make yourself a fresh vegie juice with carrots, beetroot and ginger – it’s sweet and good for you. According to research, the high-fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks cons our brains into craving more food by hindering the hormone in our body that tells us when we’re full. Sneaky!
You raid the biscuit tin whenever you can
Just have a cuppa instead. Sometimes this is enough to get you through to your next meal. A study found that drinking black tea after a meal can help you feel fuller and suppress hunger. The polyphenolic compounds in the tea are credited with suppressing rebound hunger. Plus, tea contains antioxidants and natural caffeine, which acts as an appetite suppressant.
You’ve stopped doing any form of exercise
Break your exercise into three 10-minute brisk walks – to get your lunch, pick up the kids from school, take the dog for a walk – instead of trying to fit a full 30-minute session into your day. You could also try parking further away from work or getting off the bus a stop earlier. Research shows you can break the recommended 30 minutes of daily exercise into smaller intervals and still experience similar benefits.
You finish your kids’ food
Practise portion control. A study found that slimmers committed to portion control were more likely to lose weight, the theory being that it’s easier to keep up long-term, compared to increased exercise. After a meal, it takes around 20 minutes to feel satiated, so take a breather before heading back for more. You may find you’re not hungry after all. Stick leftovers in the freezer.
You slump in front of the telly all night
Cut down your screen time by just half an hour – go for a walk instead. According to a study, by simply knocking down your sedentary leisure time, that’s your couch-potato hours, you will reduce consumption of junk food and saturated fats because there will be less opportunity to graze. They say it’s a two-for-one benefit because the behaviours are closely related.
You simply can’t get enough chocolate
Try a handful of dates or a few pieces of licorice instead. It may seem like a hard habit to give up, but clearing your fridge of chocolate and replacing it with naturally sweet dates or licorice, which is low in fat, will sate the sweet cravings. Alternatively, almonds, cashews and walnuts will fill you up, as well as give you omega-3s and vitamin E.
You OD on cheese
Feast on low-fat Greek yoghurt instead. Not only is it thick and creamy, Greek yoghurt can improve intestinal health and lower blood pressure, plus it has weight-loss effects. In a study, researchers found that obese adults who ate three servings of fat-free yoghurt a day as part of a reduced-calorie diet lost 22 per cent more weight and 61 per cent more body fat than those who just cut their kilojoule intake.
You’re partial to a drink before mealtimes
If you’re planning to crack open a bottle, eat a healthy meal first. Drinking on an empty stomach can lead to a loss of willpower, which can make you eat more than you normally would. Plus, when the body is focused on processing alcohol, it’s not able to properly breakdown foods containing carbohydrates and fat, so those kilojoules are converted into body fat instead. Also, alcohol is high in kilojoules, meaning that avoiding it in general should add up to even more weight loss.
Break those bad habits
A recent study has found that simply changing one bad habit has a domino effect on others. The ‘small changes approach’ has proven that if you concentrate on one lifestyle change, it will in turn lead to more bad habits falling by the wayside. The adjustment you make can be small, and it may only take a few minutes. It can be as simple as saying, ‘I no longer buy from the confectionery machine at work’, or, ‘From now on, I don’t add sugar to my tea.’ The important thing is to really commit to this change, no matter what. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much better you feel as a result, and very likely inspired to ditch other weaknesses, which will help you lose more weight. All you need to do is identify one habit you know you can drop for good. Swap it for a healthier alternative and then set the next one in your sights. It’s easier than you might think!